Incredibly, an offensive lineman occupies BSD’s penultimate spot in the countdown.
#9 QB Tommy Stevens (tie)
#9 DE Ryan Buchholz (tie)
#2 Ryan Bates, who puts on his big boy pads each Saturday.
How We Got Here
Number 52 popped onto the scene in early 2016 as a redshirt freshman, splitting reps at left guard with...//double-checks notes...Wendy Laurent, in the home opener vs Kent State. He finished 2016 as the starting left tackle on a Big Ten Championship squad, and a “no-help-needed” cornerstone to an offense that averaged 490 yards and 45.5 points per game over its final nine contests.
Watch the arm chop (below) on now-NFL-millionaire Vince Biegel. It’s a good one.
All of that positive film wasn’t enough to garner even an Honorable Mention from either “Coaches” or Media in the post-2016-season All-B1G teams. Of course, that’s not how sprots-writing works. In sprots-writing, someone who actually pays attention to the games must first must point out the obvious to you, the sprots-writer. Only then can you, the sprots-writer, claim the insight as your own.
Consequently, despite surrendering more sacks, getting dinged for a few more penalties, and missing some time due to injury in 2017, big number 52 actually made the “2017 All-B1G” third team. (Now that is sprots-writing at its finest.)
But man - that arm chop at 0:17 seconds, huh? It’s (still) a good one.
What To Expect
Expect a whole lot, frankly. Bates’ path stages to the classic A + B = STUD career progression. To wit: A) The young, unknown OL lays down a bunch of incredible film in year one. B) The rest of the league (excepting sprots-writers) notices, dissects his game, and lands a few clean punches on him in year two. STUD) And now, as a veteran leader who has experienced all the league has to offer - from 1st round talents like Nick Bosa jumping the snap in a deafening Horseshoe, to lazy Noon ET kickoffs against over-matched cellar-dwellers who play in a (figurative) funeral home - Ryan Bates stands ready to make his mark at PSU, and propel himself onto the NFL scouting boards. Year three should be a tour of vengeance, filled with ulna-fracturing arm chops, and knee-buckling kidney punches.
If a new offensive coordinator could ask for anything, a “no worries” blocker on the edge is near the top of the list. For the BSD staff, that’s #52 in blue-and-white, Ryan Bates - your penultimate PSU player of 2018.